owen at owengreaves dot com

Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete?

realestateI’ve met with a number of Real Estate Agents and Broker’s the past few months and I’m not surprised they view Social Media as a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I have found a few that get it, they have taken the risk and setup virtual offices and even opened accounts with FaceBook & Twitter. Some use these Social networks well and some just say they use them effectively, my research here in Canada reveals that most aren’t practicing what they preach.

I’ve made recommendations and suggested radical approaches to how an agent prospects and wastes a huge amount of time with tire kickers at open house events. They look at me with those puppy eyes and say I couldn’t do that, I don’t know how, that sounds like too much work. I think it’s harder the way they do things now, but they’re stuck! If you’re an agent or a broker that’s been in the industry longer than 10 years, you may have a tougher time making the paradigm shift. I’m not saying you can’t or don’t have the ability, but I am saying if you don’t, life is going to get very interesting when the new tech savvy up and comers produce at a high level with a very different kind of effort. How will you compete and survive?

Let me give you an example of one thing you could do and have fun doing it. I’ll look at the old school traditional agent first, then the new tech savvy agent.

Old School Agent

The old school agent would sit on the phone rounding up prospects for hours on end, then would set up 4 or 5 walk abouts and even a few open house events two weekends in a row. A lot of time and effort goes into this type of selling, hard work is important but with today’s technology why would you do this? Organizing and worrying about how may or may not show up, worse yet, having to go and pick them to ensure you do have a prospect. Getting flier’s out and setting up sign’s, the list goes on. The advertising costs can be staggering too, time spent networking, convincing people they should come and see this house and so on.

The New Tech Savvy Agent

The new tech savvy agent sits at the desk and decides which homes to work on this week, then prepares how they would sell the dream of the home on video. This agent goes out and buys a Flip MinoHD Camcorder 2nd Generation (Amazon Link) hooks up to the net, logs into their UStream.TV account, walks through the house and broadcasts it LIVE! They walk through the home and share how this home could be plus records the whole event, then puts the recorded video on UStream and his or her Blog and other locations for prospects to view at their leisure. The tech savvy agents then jump on Social Network’s that feed multiple Social networks all at once with this new home to look at via video.

This new agent let’s the prospect qualify themselves and let’s them contact him or her when they’re ready, this agent is thinking about the prospect not themselves.

As you can see the new tech savvy agent takes a different risk, invests their time giving what prospects want and then makes it ridiculously easy for them. The prospect that calls the new tech savvy agent back just qualified themselves, less work than the old school way of handling the same task. This is just one opportunity to start making the shift to Real Estate Selling with Social Media, if you don’t take baby steps now and don’t learn how to do some of these techie things. I have to wonder if Real Estate Brokers won’t become obsolete, Broker / Owners at some point will figure out they can handle inventory in a less complicated way. By the way, people complicate things not flip cams and iPhones.

Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete? Maybe not yet, and maybe not all, but more than you think.

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  

25 Comments

  1. Ronda Payne on October 16, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    I agree. Even though I love the realtors I’ve worked with, one of them is embrassing the new ‘wave’ the other may not ever do so. I also know a local realtor who is very on top of this wave and I think he’s doing great things with it. It’s definitely a wonderful way to reach people in a way that is valuable.



  2. Chris Penner on October 19, 2009 at 3:14 PM

    Here is a thought, people can never be generalist of everything. They can try but never succeed in one area. So most people choose something and specialize in it. When they come across a problem that is outside there expertise they will either contract that out (like most smart people would in today’s world), or they would do some light reading buy some tools of that trade and spend lot’s of extra hours only to have a sub par result, empty bank account, and a variable amount of time behind on there real job.

    Keep in mind if you are looking to start a new hobby or career this might be what you have to do.

    The reality is that you wouldn’t attempt to re roof your house your self (if you weren’t in that trade), and you wouldn’t try to do a hole host of other things that where out side your expertise, Right? Not unless you wanted waste time, money, and end up with a sub par result right?

    So why would you try to sell your house your self? It is the same thing. People think they can do it, but the reality of it is they loose time, money and end up with a sub par result.

    I do how ever agree that if the RE community doesn’t change they will get left behind and run the risk of they them selves becoming as in the individual Realtor but not Realtors in general.

    I am a Full Time Real Estate Consultant. Long live positive change. Social Media here we come.

    Cheers!



    • Owen Greaves on October 19, 2009 at 3:24 PM

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for commenting, the point of the article is just that, if the long in the tooth agents don’t make the shift (change) they will definitely become obsolete. Whether or not agents become totally unnecessary is not really the point, I expect the number of agents will drop but only due to the unwillingness to get with the program. Broker’s in the future will not hire those who are not able to function in this new way, running around wasting time and using old tools like Phones & Faxes just won’t cut it any longer.

      Talk to you soon, Owen



  3. Villas in Spain on October 21, 2009 at 2:06 AM

    With social media it is difficult to measure results… beyond whether you end up with more money in the bank and I think apart from any lack of resources (including time ) to get started this creates an obstacle for the older agents to enter this field.

    Another thing is it depends on your target market you must go where your market are. Are they on facebook (yet)? My market tends to be 50 year old Europeans and many are not there. If I was selling loft conversions and duplexes in Toronto… probably a different story.

    Also I need to keep my sellers happy they would be much more impressed with a full page add in a magazine than a hundred hours spent on social media. (Even though in my opinion the magazine advertising is only slightly better than useless)

    You mention ….The tech savvy agents then jump on Social Network’s that feed multiple Social networks all at once …. care to share your secrets here (ping/posterous/friendfeed) or have I missed something???

    Like the post but the old school tactics combined with a normal internet presence can still be very effective and should be where most of the effort still goes.. if you have time and resources left over then focus on social media but as you said you must be strategic, it can be a big time suck…. I am sure that with time the balance will change.

    Unfortunately ar this time the problems faced by the real estate industry run a lot deeper… if it was only the way we market ourselves that would be simple to overcome.



    • Owen Greaves on October 21, 2009 at 11:37 AM

      Hi There, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      Firstly, thank you for your comments and you make interesting points. Secondly, let me apologize to you. Living in a Western Culture means those of us who live here only see things from a Western point of view. When someone like me makes generalizations it may have a negative impact, the global market views these statements very differently. It’s not always a level playing field. You know your country / City far better than someone like me pitching from Western Canada, but, Social Media and Marketing principles are universal and work globally when exercised properly.

      Having said that, SM is not that hard to measure and to determine a Return On Investment. The Real Estate business has deeper issues from an Agent perspective, you only have a small pool to pick from or recruit from when it comes to experienced agents. Therefore, your ratio of sales per agent means something very different.

      The challenge with most Broker’s & Agent’s is this and I’m generalizing, the struggle of breaking old habits and trying to force old methods into a new way of doing business. They want to broadcast rather than relate, much like TV, Radio and Print function. Social Media is an inbound not outbound marketing, like those I just mentioned. You have to give up a level of control, you can’t hold all your cards to chest, transparency and openness are what people are looking for in a Broker / Agent. Breaking those old methods are the hardest part, especially with older agents, you don’t convert them quickly, you can solve the problem through recruiting differently.

      Here in the America’s, people want to qualify themselves, want to look at homes on their terms not the agencies, they want to see it before they decide to go out and invest time in the property. The easier you make it for them the better.

      As far as feeding multiple Social Media Networks, that’s pretty easy actually, you have to find the tools that you find comfortable to use and that have the features that allow you to feed multiple networks. I consult with many agents and Broker’s here and they all ask the same questions because they are struggling, they are having a tough time wrapping their head around how this is something to invest in. It’s not traditional in nature, but, it is something you have always done. The struggle is translating it to the Internet.

      I hope that helps, I am very well versed in the Real Estate Business due to being married into it, and consulting the major companies here.



  4. Villas in Spain on October 22, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    Thanks for taking the time to reply – social media in some form is going to be playing a bigger part but here we are playing catch up – also we don’t have the broker and agent arrangement just vendor – agent – purchaser.

    You are right it is a struggle!!



    • Owen Greaves on October 22, 2009 at 3:09 PM

      Let me know if I can be of service, I work with many agents and Broker’s here in Western Canada.



  5. Gregg Pikor on November 8, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    I enjoyed reading your post. I’m an agent in mid hudson New York. I was researching the questions of whether or not real estate agents were becoming obsolete.

    I have a question on your flip camera suggestion. Do you think that using a flip camera could be counter productive, in that, it might look unprofessional to the viewer. Would you be better off using a camera and tripod to make it look more professional?

    I am a new agent, 3months in, and I’m looking for ways to seperate myself. However certain technology is intimidating when you don’t have a backround. Any suggestions on how to begin?



    • Owen Greaves on November 8, 2009 at 9:23 PM

      Hi Gregg, Thanks for your comments and question. One of the most difficult things people in general struggle with is being open & transparent, so your question is normal and I get it alot. There is an agent here in my community doing the Flip Cam thing, actually he does it with an iPhone and that question you asked never crossed his mind. Why? He knows that people will look past whether it looks good or not if they are truly looking for a home online. In the end it’s about stretching your cpmfort zone, doing something different that doesn’t have status attached to it, there I’ve said it. 🙂 I would recommend you connect with Chris, his Twitter handle is @chrispenner his website is http://www.chrispenner.com

      Check out how he is doing things, I have been working with him for months and he is going to turn this town upside down once he figures out how to make it his own. Being yourself is the most important thing, embrace your DNA and be real. I consult a few Real Estate Agents here in my community and I am also helping a fella in Spain, let me know if you need anything.



  6. Gregg Pikor on November 9, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    Thanks Owen for your quick response. I’ve been on other forums and they discussed this topic and the number of hours it took for editting and so on. It seemed overkill to an extent and I like your point of view.

    I appreciate your tips and I will connect with Chris. Thanks!



  7. Tyler Schacter on September 7, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    Interesting read. I would argue that you neglect to mention two of the most important functions that a real estate agent does (or should do) for his or her clients :providing information about the market value of propertiesy and negotiating the offer.



    • owengreaves on September 7, 2010 at 7:43 PM

      As I mentioned to you on Twitter, for the most part, in my experience, most agents focus far too much on the transaction rather than the two points you make reference too. I consult many a Broker & Agent so I do have some insight, not to mention my Father-in-Law worked at REMAX Headquarters for ten years.

      The problem as I see it, agents are stuck on old practices, some are trying to build new business models but the majority are not. People are not interested in being sold in any fashion or lead down a sales path, they want to experience the whole process without interference.

      Just an observation and foresight.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment here, I hope to see you again soon.

      Owen



  8. Tyler Schacter on September 7, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    Interesting read. I would argue that you neglect to mention two of the most important functions that a real estate agent does (or should do) for his or her clients :providing information about the market value of propertiesy and negotiating the offer.



    • owengreaves on September 7, 2010 at 7:43 PM

      As I mentioned to you on Twitter, for the most part, in my experience, most agents focus far too much on the transaction rather than the two points you make reference too. I consult many a Broker & Agent so I do have some insight, not to mention my Father-in-Law worked at REMAX Headquarters for ten years.

      The problem as I see it, agents are stuck on old practices, some are trying to build new business models but the majority are not. People are not interested in being sold in any fashion or lead down a sales path, they want to experience the whole process without interference.

      Just an observation and foresight.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment here, I hope to see you again soon.

      Owen



  9. Real Estate Consultant on October 30, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Yes, i am thinking that Real Estate Agents Obsolete

    it may be

    thanks



    • owengreaves on October 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM

      There will always be a few around, but I think the future of Broker Owners is in more danger of disappearing.



  10. Real Estate Consultant on October 30, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Yes, i am thinking that Real Estate Agents Obsolete

    it may be

    thanks



    • owengreaves on October 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM

      There will always be a few around, but I think the future of Broker Owners is in more danger of disappearing.



  11. Todd on November 1, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Old School Vs New Tech Savey Agent: I have been selling real estate in Rhode Island one yard at a time for over 35 years and taking people home! I am proud of my years in the business as my product knowldge is invaluable to all my clients.
    I do take advantage of technology and would never buy that cheap FLip MonoHD camera as I want my clients homes to have high qualtiy video. I do think some of the new Tech agents give too much info and eliminates buyers that think they know what they want. The art of knowing the good and the bad regarding properties is invaluable!
    Be a great listener and observe! T. Todd Brown Broker Associate Phillips Post Road Realty
    401-267-8837 todd@ move2ri.com



    • owengreaves on November 1, 2010 at 5:38 PM

      Hi Todd,

      I do much consulting with agents, and I can tell you far too many are stuck, they still love their FAX Machine far too much. Having said that, I agree with you, a balance between being a great listener and paying attention, after all attention is the new currency.

      I would venture to say, Owner Browkers are in bigger trouble than agents. The need for an Owner or Broker is becoming less and less important in the grand scheme of things.

      Agents will have to make adjustments too, if they don’t many will become obsolete in my humble opinion.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, it’s great to hear from you.



  12. Todd on November 1, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Old School Vs New Tech Savey Agent: I have been selling real estate in Rhode Island one yard at a time for over 35 years and taking people home! I am proud of my years in the business as my product knowldge is invaluable to all my clients.
    I do take advantage of technology and would never buy that cheap FLip MonoHD camera as I want my clients homes to have high qualtiy video. I do think some of the new Tech agents give too much info and eliminates buyers that think they know what they want. The art of knowing the good and the bad regarding properties is invaluable!
    Be a great listener and observe! T. Todd Brown Broker Associate Phillips Post Road Realty
    401-267-8837 todd@ move2ri.com



    • owengreaves on November 1, 2010 at 5:38 PM

      Hi Todd,

      I do much consulting with agents, and I can tell you far too many are stuck, they still love their FAX Machine far too much. Having said that, I agree with you, a balance between being a great listener and paying attention, after all attention is the new currency.

      I would venture to say, Owner Browkers are in bigger trouble than agents. The need for an Owner or Broker is becoming less and less important in the grand scheme of things.

      Agents will have to make adjustments too, if they don’t many will become obsolete in my humble opinion.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, it’s great to hear from you.



  13. Marble Polishing Boynton Beach on December 9, 2010 at 7:16 AM

    Thanks for the great information.



  14. Mold Removal Oceanside on December 14, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Great site, looking forward to reading and getting involved with the community.



  15. Mold Removal Oceanside on December 14, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Great site, looking forward to reading and getting involved with the community.



%d bloggers like this: